MOSCOW — Police clashed with demonstrators protesting alleged election fraud in Moscow and at least two other major Russian cities on Tuesday as anger boiled over against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his United Russia party.
At least 250 people were detained by police at a protest in downtown Moscow that included flare-type fireworks thrown at a group of pro-Kremlin youth, said city police spokesman Maxim Kolosvetov.
Russian news agencies reported about 200 were arrested at a similar attempt to hold an unsanctioned rally in St. Petersburg and another 25 in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don. The Moscow protest ended after around 31/2 hours and the others were broken up by police.
It was the second consecutive night of large protests in Moscow and St. Petersburg, an unusually sustained show of indignation as police routinely crack down hard on unauthorized rallies.
The demonstrations follow Sunday's parliamentary election, in which United Russia lost a large share of the seats it had held in the State Duma. The party maintains a majority, but opponents say even that came because of vote fraud.
Local and international election observers reported widespread ballot-stuffing and irregularities in the vote count.
United Russia won slightly less than 50 percent of Sunday's vote, according to nearly complete preliminary results. It is a significant drop from the 2007 election when the party got a two-thirds majority.
Putin called his party's reduced number of seats an "inevitable" result of voters always being dissatisfied with the party in power. He also dismissed allegations of corruption, calling it a "cliche" that the party had to fight.